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THE ELEVENTH HOUR

     Do you ever have dreams that make you wonder if they have hidden meanings? My recent dream may have had a hidden meaning. It certainly had a profound impact on my new year.     

 

     A few days before the new year, I dreamt of our church’s new year’s celebration. We normally have games and food, and about 30 minutes before the hour we meet up in the auditorium to have singspiration and testimonies. I recall, in my dream, that my pastor was up on the pulpit. I looked behind him at the clock on the wall (which there is not actually one there in reality) and saw the hour hand on the 11. “Oh!” I exclaimed, “We’re actually here early for once!” then my dream changed into, I’m pretty sure, something silly. Waking up, that scene was clearly in my head-mainly the clock hand on the number 11. I dismissed the dream, except to retell it to my Pastor’s wife the next day. A couple of days later, I dreamt that I was on a scavenger hunt. I came across a book and opened it up. At the top of the book were the words written in bold letters- THE ELEVENTH HOUR. “That’s what the clock was all about!” I yelled in my dream and off I ran to finish the scavenger hunt. When I awoke, I immediately looked up on my phone’s bible app “the eleventh hour.” It was a familiar passage-one I’ve heard many sermons on. Yet, as I read, one phrase popped out. “Why stand ye here all the day idle?” At the same time, the Holy Spirit kicked me in the gut. I knew He wasn’t telling me that I had wasted my two-week holiday vacation on sleeping in and lazing around the house (well, it wasn’t the MAIN point He was making). That whole day “Why stand ye here idle, April?” rung in my ears. “Yes, LORD, I know.”

 

     Due to a recent tragedy in my family, I had purposed in my heart to go beyond my mere Christianity. I was going to search out this God- creator of life and all that we know of it. I vowed to draw near to Him, and when that got too hard, to claw near. It was a slow-going process, at first, due to the previous years of ups and downs and backslidings. However, now I had a reminder to get me back on focus. For a few months, the experience was invigorating, and I was renewed indeed! “Use me, LORD” became my tearful plea. I was determined not to go back to the same old “saved” April, and to see to it with fervent vigor that all my children were secured in the faith.

 

     Fast forward to several weeks before the New Year, and my spiritual walk started taking on an all too familiar stride. I tried to talk my way out of stagnation, but the flesh only yawned as it had heard the mantra many times before. Were the dreams God’s means at rebuking me? That is a possibility. However, it is now my New Year’s motivational phrase.

 

 

     So, why am I writing all this? For the reason that, perhaps there is someone out there who will read this and say- “That’s me, too!” I look at a lot of Christians today, and see that we seem to have become lifeless. We are going through a routine. With everything that happened in 2020, and the things that are being set up for the near future, the clock is pealing “it’s the eleventh hour!” and many of us are standing in an idling position. You may attend church services faithfully, read your bible every day, and pray often.  You may even soul-win and serve in your church, but is the Lord saying to you “why stand ye here idle?”  20 years of serving in a local New Testament church, yet there were times that I was in idle. I think of a car with the purpose and ability to take us where we need to but we, at times, let it sit idling, its engine running but not doing much of anything. You can be active for God yet idling-without purpose or effect. Why so?  An inventory of your heart and motives is the key.

 

     As I stated before, inert and in a routine is the habit of many of today’s Christians. We go through the motions and say the right things, but our hearts are not in it.  In Isaiah 29:13, the Lord said of His people, Israel, “Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men”. God is not satisfied with words and actions if they are not produced from a pure and purposeful heart. Perhaps it is due to hardships or lack of understanding of God. Discouragement or physical fatigue/ailment. Bored or lacking in faith. Wounded by the church or a fellow Christian. In the parable of the sower, the seed that fell amongst the thorns was hindered from producing fruit because the thorns that had grown around it choked it (Matthew 13:7; Mark 4:7; Luke 8:7). Have you let the cares of this world make you an ineffective servant?  Have you let the ease of life and entertainments cause your heart to be apathetic and lethargic?

 

     The eleventh hour, in ancient biblical days, was about five o’clock -the last hour before the end of the workday. The events of last year, those of this past week and that which is to come are just reminders that our time is short, the clock is ticking faster and louder. We have a duty to perform regardless of the events of this life. Only what is done for Christ matters. Shake off the drowsiness and anything that is keeping you inactive. Watch unto prayer (1 Peter 4:7) and equip yourself with the WHOLE armour of God (Ephesians 6: 11-18).  Make Psalms 139:23 & 24 your daily prayer – “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

 

     May we all strive to occupy till He comes (Luke 19:12-13), being faithful with the talents He has given (Matthew 25:14-29). Hold fast brothers and sisters and continue fervently, for the day is fast approaching when the Master cometh. Are you standing idle all the day, waiting for the work to be assigned to you? It has already been issued. Go forth to it with your whole heart.  Work, for the night is coming when man’s work is done.

 

 

Written by April Islas